TFL Invests £6M in Naming London Underground Routes



Read Time

4 min


20 February, 2024

Despite the fact over half a million people use this as a mode of transport daily, the 6 routes of the London Underground have, until now, been nameless.

This has caused a great deal of confusion among passengers and those working within the network.

However following a mammoth consultation process, and a reported £6 million to complete the changes, each of the 6 routes have been given their own name, making them easier to remember and more distinctive for all passengers.

Transport for London (TFL) have announced that the changes are expected to be rolled out towards the end of the year.

Each of the new names are closely linked to the routes that they serve:

  • The Lioness Line – Following the England women’s football teams win in the Women’s Euros in 2022, this line cuts through Wembley.
  • The Mildmay Line – This is a tribute to the Mildmay NHS hospital, which, after opening in the 1860s, went on to be recognised as Europe’s first hospital exclusively devoted to the care of HIV and AIDS patients.
  • The Windrush Line – According to TFL, this runs through parts of London that have “strong ties to Caribbean communities today”.
  • The Weaver Line – This line celebrates east and north London’s longstanding affiliation with the textile trade.
  • The Suffragette Line – This celebrates Annie Huggett, who lived, died, and campaigned for the women’s rights movement while a resident of Barking which is located at one end of the route.
  • The Liberty Line – This underscores the overarching theme of “freedom” characterising London, simultaneously acknowledging various locations within the Havering borough that bear the name Liberty.

the new names of London underground routes
Credit to Creative Review
One of the biggest reasons behind the introduction of these names was to signify the great histories of London, England, and Britain especially considering the amount of people and tourists who use these routes on a daily basis.

Mayor Sadiq Khan had the following to say:

There are so many fascinating, and often forgotten, stories from our city that should be told and remembered. Naming the lines will not only help educate visitors about our amazing city and its incredible history but will also make it easier for people who live, work or visit London to navigate the city.

The studio responsible for devising the names was DNCO, who are specialists in creating brands for destinations on a global scale.

They have previously taken the lead in naming both Brent Cross Town and the street housing the new London City Hall Building, showcasing their expertise in this area of branding.

That said, this was still an entirely new project for the team at DNCO and something different for them to navigate. The key focus was creating names that were easy to remember and represent the city’s heritage and diverse culture.

DNCO Strategy Director, Simon Yewdall, said:

This brief is truly a first-of-its-kind – opening up the naming of a public infrastructure to the entire city, and using the opportunity to reflect London’s diverse histories and narratives.

people standing holding London underground route names
Credit to PA Media
The hope is that this initiative will establish a standard for the execution of naming projects like this in the future.

One of the exciting parts of the project, but also one of the key challenges, is its originality. Whilst other metro systems use a numeric model to represent different routes and lines, this initiative involved names.

As such, there was no guide or reference to base this off so the agency, in partnership with TFL, had to create their own process which can be replicated by others going forward.

This was explained by Yewdall who said they had to consider how they communicated the benefits of the line naming and how they phrased the questions when interviewing people during the research phase.

They spoke to a variety of people through interviews, workshops, and surveys hearing from Overground staff and the wider TfL network, academics, historians, transport specialists, writers, poets, and wordsmiths, ensuring the names were inclusive and effectively conveyed the relevant stories.

Yewdall continued by emphasising that this has been a chance to showcase the cultural and historical identity of the city:

It is about time that we have names that celebrate the importance of workers and women’s rights, queer histories, and the phenomenally positive impact of migrants on London’s culture, food, music, fashion, healthcare and innovation. It’s a chance to remember what has been achieved, and consider what we can achieve as Londoners.

Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

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